While there have been some pretty ordinary college comedies released over the last few years it is with some relief that finally a good one has surfaced. Sure ‘Blue Like Jazz’ isn’t exactly a masterpiece but the deep topics that it explores does lift it above the mediocre ones that have been surfacing recently.
The deeply religious Don Miller (Marshall Allman) has his life turned upside down when he discovers that his mother (Jenny Littleton) is having an affair with their church’s youth pastor. This breach in trust sees Don starting to question his own faith and while angry he makes the decision to give up his place at Trinity College and instead attend the party school, Reed College.
However, Don’s religious background makes it hard for him to fit into the school’s party lifestyle and while he turns his back on his faith he still finds his life choices cause him problems. He works hard to win the approval of students such as The Pope (Justin Welborn) but in doing so seems to hurt friends like the straight laced Penny (Claire Holt) and the bi-sexual Lauryn (Tania Raymnde) while also making enemies of people like Yuri (Matt Godfrey).
While director Steve Taylor (who previously directed ‘Second Chance’) does a good job making this a decent college drama/comedy he also holds back a little preventing the film from ever becoming as good as something like ‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower’. While Don’s battle with faith and also his budding relationship with Penny is enough to keep the audience interested it seems that important storylines such as one revolving around Lauryn and her bi-sexuality are just thrown by the wayside, a shame because it is clear that she is deeply affected when she is rejected for the first time.
Still the screenwriters on ‘Blue Like Jazz’ do deserve a lot of credit. For once the teenager characters that are portrayed in a movie such as this aren’t one dimensional. Don is a great character but even he is overshadowed by The Pope a pretty full-on character when you realize that this is a film that is supposed to be aimed at church goers. A great deal of characterization has gone into The Pope and anybody that is offended by him early on should keep watching as his character is fully explored later on in the movie.
There are no real standout performances in ‘Blue Like Jazz’ although the acting here is a lot better than some of ‘religious’ films that have been around in the past. Certainly Marshall Allman and Claire Holt do enough to show that they have good acting futures ahead of them although it is a shame that Tania Raymonde didn’t get more to work with because early on the film she steals the scenes that she is in.
While nowhere near one of the films of the year ‘Blue Like Jazz’ is an entertaining film that proves that these college comedies/dramas can in fact explore some pretty deep topics.